She made another circle with her thumb, and he drew in another breath. And then, because her body begged for it—because his eyes pleaded for it—she teased her nipple with her fingertips. Desire shot through her, taking up an insistent, liquid beat between her legs.
He didn’t move to touch, to take. He just watched, his breath growing ragged. Her pleasure was his.
“Now…” She swallowed, and gathered her nerve. “Now you touch my br**sts.”
He leaned over her, setting his warm hand where hers had been. His thumb was rougher and more callused, brushing her nipple through the fabric of her shift. If her own touch had brought on a shock of pleasure, his called up a rough well of desire, dark and needy, from deep within. He leaned down and touched his lips to her other nipple. His breath was hot and humid; his tongue outlined the dark, puckered skin. She gave herself over to the sensation of being touched by him—small caresses still urgent with want; tongue and then teeth, teasing her, bringing her to the edge of her want.
“Stop,” she panted.
He pulled away. The muscles of his arm strained, holding himself in place.
“I want your trousers,” she told him.
“I want your chemise.”
They’d stopped exchanging pins, Serena realized—just slipped into one request given for another. She took a deep breath and pulled her chemise over her head. She freed her arms just in time to see him kicking his trousers and undergarments away. Now she could follow that dark line etched on his belly all the way down to a curly nest of hair, from which jutted his erection. He was hard and long, and so thick her fingers would scarcely meet if she were to place her hand around his member.
She reached out experimentally—yes—her thumb just overlapped her forefinger. He hissed as she touched him, but did not otherwise move. She stroked down his length, wondering at the contrast—warm and soft at first touch, yet hard as steel when she squeezed him. He made a noise in the back of his throat, something akin to a growl, and his hands gripped the bed sheets, but he didn’t move. He didn’t kiss her. He didn’t take her in his arms. He simply shut his eyes and let her explore.
She let go of his erection and ran her hands up his body: up the rippling muscles of his abdomen, up the expanse of his chest. She rested her hands on his shoulders and then pushed onto her knees and kissed him.
As she did, she stretched out against him full-length. All that warm skin, all that hard muscle pressed flush against her body.
His mouth took hers with bruising force. Her tongue darted out to his, and he met her, stroke for stroke, kiss for kiss. She felt herself turning to liquid, each heated kiss stoking a building fire. But still he didn’t wrap his arms around her.
She closed her hand around his member once more and he jerked almost spasmodically. “Ah, sweet—” he said, low and hoarse. She burned all over, from head to foot. But pressing herself against his hardness wasn’t enough. She needed more—needed his arms around her, his body demanding more of her. She wasn’t sure when her bravado had turned into brazenness.
“Touch my br**sts again,” she said.
The command was less shy; his response was more certain. He set his hands on her waist and slid them up her ribs to cup her naked br**sts. No teasing caress, now; he leaned to kiss one, then the other—first just lips touching, and then the entirety of his mouth, hot, his tongue stroking her nipple. So good—he felt so good.
Her thighs began to tremble; he sank to sit on the bed, and pulled her to straddle him. That put her br**sts right in front of him, and he took them again, tasting them. His hard erection fitted against the juncture of her thighs. Her want had gone beyond the tingle of her skin. It swelled to fill her all over. She was wet between her legs. She shifted against him, sliding against his hardness, and her desire intensified.
Again. Again. She rose up on him to press once more, and the head of his member pushed into place. She opened her eyes to regard him. His hand found hers; their fingers tangled.
He didn’t say anything. He didn’t have to. Her limbs seemed to melt. She could not hold herself in place, poised as she was.
And so she let go, relaxing the muscles that held her over him. She simply let herself sink onto his length. He was so big inside her. But the sensation wasn’t unpleasant. It was…lovely.
She was safe. Safe to simply experience the hardness of him, the stretch of her body, the growing pulse of her desire. It was safe to want—to rise up on her knees and then engulf him once more.
Their eyes met as she did; he let out a breath, long and deep, and his hands clenched around hers.
Her body knew what to do without any need for instruction. Deep instinct led her to grind against his pelvis, to search out the right rhythm, the right friction. She lost herself in the feel of them—in the subtle satisfaction that swept over her at the look on his face as she moved faster.
“You lovely thing,” he growled.
Passion built until it became an immense pressure, demanding release. She tried and tried, but no matter how she reached for it, it eluded her. Just when her want hit the edge of splintering frustration, he slid his hand between her legs and stroked her right where she needed it.
His touch was sure and unerring. The heat that had built released all at once, an inferno engulfing her from head to toe. She lost sight of everything but the pleasure that raged through her.
And then, when the whirlwind had passed, his hands fell on her hips and he drove into her from beneath, hammering home the echoes of her pleasure with his own. He let out a hoarse cry while she was still shuddering in the aftermath of her orgasm.
They sank to the mattress afterward. His arms came around her, warm and comforting. This was right—precisely what she’d needed.
He cupped her cheek.
It was a moment of precious, perfect togetherness. No wonder they referred to the act as intimacy. She had never felt so closely entangled with anyone before. His breaths were hers. His body…
She opened her eyes and looked into his dark gaze.
He wasn’t smiling at her. If anything, his intensity had grown. “There now,” he said softly. “Now you understand why I didn’t want to consummate the marriage.”
SHE HAD BEEN ALMOST LIQUID, molded against Hugo’s chest. But he had no sooner spoken then all the tension crept back into her limbs. She stiffened atop him, then pulled away.
“Hugo. It doesn’t have to be—”
He set his fingers across her lips before she could give voice to his deepest wants. “It does.”